Wheelz: a P2P car-sharing service for students

Students at Stanford University should be satisfied with a new service, by the name of Wheelz. The service is similar to other car sharing platforms, such as RelayRides, GetAround, Zimride, and Zipcar, but Wheelz has backing from Chamath Palihaptiya; an early employee and ex-vice president of Facebook. The service has gained $2,000,000 in funding, and boasts some notable angel investors. Among these are the vice-chairman of Ernst & Young, Jim Freer, and the founder of Playfish, Sebastien De Halleax.

As TechCrunch reports, he technology platform Wheelz runs on was designed by Akhtar Jameel, who received the Smithsonian Computer World Innovations gold medal in 1997 for developing the world's first internet-connected car. The big names don't ensure the success of Wheelz, but the system is also linked with Facebook to help gain trust among students who are preparing to borrow a car from another student.

Unsurprisingly, the service also boasts an iPhone app. It also includes its own in-car hardware system, named "DriveBox". The hardware is installed in the car by employees from Wheelz, who apparently will take roughly an hour. The system allows other members from Wheelz to unlock the car via the iPhone app, or a Wheelz card. The company also provide a box for storing the key, where the car owners can easily leave the key for other members on the site.

The driver is expected to fuel the vehicle, rather than the owner, which seems reasonable. The start-up also covers insurance on the vehicle, thanks to a million-dollar insurance policy agreement. Their existing coverage is in no way affected by Wheelz' coverage, according to their website. While the concept is undoubtedly rather cool, the number of people willing to actually share their car may not be extremely high. The service already offers a selection of cars, as well as a calculator to estimate the rent price of a number of other vehicles. The number of vehicles available via the calculator is rather impressive, and ranges from the logical, to the extreme (such as the Maybach 62).

Wheelz have also released a video outlining their service on YouTube.

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